Grand Jury Declines to Indict Msgr. Rossi, SNAP Reacts

This morning, a grand jury declined to indict a Houston-area church official who had been accused of sexually assaulting a woman who had come to him for counseling.

Our hearts ache for Laura Pontikes, the alleged victim in this case. We know that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo himself told Pontikes that he believed her when she first came forward with the allegations against Monsignor Frank Rossi. We also agree with Baylor Professor David Pooler that this case seemed to be a clear example of nonconsent and are saddened for the victim that she was not believed by the grand jurors. We hope that she is getting the help and support that she needs in this challenging time.

To us, this case shows the challenges of recognizing the issue of consent, especially in relationships that have a power imbalance such as in the clergy-penitent relationship. It is nearly impossible for there to be an equal relationship when one person is coming to the other in time of emotional and spiritual crisis.

Now that Msgr. Rossi’s case is over, we hope that adults in Houston will be particularly wary of coming to him for counsel. And we hope that the Archdiocese of Houston will mete out their own punishments for a relationship that, while perhaps not a crime according to this grand jury, is in clear violation of canon law.

CONTACT: Eduardo Lopez de Casas, SNAP Houston (eduarturo_c@yahoo.com, 832-641-6319) 

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org


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